He was an interesting guy when I first met him, but highly problematic. When I was constable in the SCA, he was an eternal trial. When he was functional, he was interesting to talk to, witty, and educated. An old hippy, he also claimed that he hadn't been fully clean and sober since 1967. Dragon Run Household periodically took him in and watched out for him. He was fairly normal around Clan Colin, who also took him in. What amazes me is how many of the younger members of Clan Colin regarded him as something of a father figure, coming from broken and disfunctional homes, and finding he was someone who actually cared about them. But John was a morose drunk, who would get sad and paranoid when he'd had too much, and I and friends remember too many times of talking him down when he was crying and feeling the world was against him. He disappeared out of the area for a few years, and rumors always reported him dead, somewhere. Skid row and ditches were popular sites.
But then he reappeared. Clean and sober, and with his life reasonably together. I asked him about it. He said that he had run out of money a few years before, and couldn't get booze, and fully sobered up. And had a revelation: He liked the person he was when he was sober. And that's when he decided to go on the wagon. The person we had always wanted him to be had come out, and he was interesting to talk to and a really nice guy. He took care of his aging father for years, as well. I gave him rides from Petaluma to Rohnert Park a few times, when he would come to Hogmany at The Colin's. His father died a few years back, and he kept living in the area. He was having health problems, on and off, was in and out of the hospital, the past couple years.
I got word today that he had been found dead in a hotel room in Rohnert Park, where he'd been living. Natural causes, it looks like. Somehow, it was an anticlimax, after all the dramatic rumors of his younger days. He was indigent, but his life was in order. Therefore, I raise a toast to him, as proof that anyone can find redemption and get their life in order, if John Strange could pull it off. He was the walking proof.
Those of us who knew "John Strange 2.0" are pledging money toward trying to get him cremated, rather than being sent to "disposal" as is the custom for indigents. I don't know if we'll manage to get enough money, since most of us aren't exactly doing well, either, but it's worth a try. We're what passes for his family. May his soul find peace.